Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Book Recommendation and a Bank Non-Recommendation

Writers out there: I strongly recommend the book Writing the Other: a Practical Approach, by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward. It's the companion book to Shawl and Ward's Writing the Other Workshop. From the workshop website (linked to above): "Are you afraid to write about characters whose racial heritage, sexual orientation, or religion differs from your own? Do you think you'll get it wrong — or cause offense? In this intensive four-hour workshop, authors Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward will teach you to write sensitively and convincingly about characters of diverse backgrounds and cultures." The same can be said for this book, which contains a lot of great information, guidelines, exercises, etc., to help you write characters whose race, sexual orientation, age, ability, religion, or sex differ from your own. The book is gentle. Shawl and Ward tell the reader that it's okay to make mistakes; that it's worthwhile -- more than worthwhile, important -- to try. Read this book.

Another helpful read, for writers and readers, is Mitali Perkins's article in School Library Journal, "Straight Talk on Race: Challenging the Stereotypes in Kids' Books."

I'm writing this in a rush because there are two 20-month old girls in the other room about to wake up at any moment. I'm writing it carelessly and badly because I'm distracted by being furious with Bank of America, who recently raised the minimum balance on my checking account from $750 -- which was absurdly high to begin with -- to $1500, and informed me of this change with a note on my bank statement. Hello. I am a freaking busy person. I read my bank statement to make sure no one is stealing from me. I do not always read the extraneous writing on my bank statement, and sometimes I don't get to my bank statement for a while. I should have been notified of a change like this in a separate communication. The new minimum balance is BEYOND absurd, as is the $14 fee I was charged for dropping below that balance. I have resisted closing my BoA account up until now, despite numerous frustrations and insults like this one, because so many of my bills are set up to be paid automatically from that account, and changing those arrangements will be a big hassle. Finally, today, I am mad enough to close the account and reorganize all my bills.

USAian readers, if you're fed up with your big bank and are ready to move your money to a local bank or credit union, check out moveyourmoneyproject.org, which explains the benefits of investing locally and also has features to help you find and read reviews of local banks and credit unions in or near your zip code. Thanks, codename: Joe (who was nearby when I saw the Bank of America fee, and witnessed me losing my temper) for the link. It's one of the resources I intend to use to help me open an account with a banking business that won't make me feel like I'm being taken advantage of on a continuing basis.

Apologies again for the rush in which this post was written. And for souring my support of Writing the Other and Mitali Perkins's article with this bank rant. They deserve better.

The littluns are stirring. Better post this and go. ^_^